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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-18-001    Date:  Autumn 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-18-001
Issue No: Vol. 81 No. 3
Date: Autumn 2017


Hot Topic

by Agnes R. Velez

Bringing International Experience To Performance Measurement

Globally, funding limitations and competition for resources require that transportation agencies increasingly focus on performance measurement in support of investment and policy decisions. In the United States, measuring performance has been in the forefront of recent transportation priorities. Recent Federal legislation has accelerated transportation agencies’ efforts to develop and emphasize performance outcomes.

To implement a successful approach to transportation performance measurement, research organizations and governments at all levels must work in tandem. International engagements and partnerships provide an additional source of knowledge and experience based on other countries’ approaches and lessons learned.

Strengthening Collaboration

Bringing together more than 120 governments, the World Road Association (WRA) is the only international intergovernmental organization focusing on technology transfer in matters related to road transportation. Through the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the United States has increased its presence in the WRA’s technical committees.

As part of U.S. participation in the WRA, AASHTO serves as the U.S. National Committee. Among other responsibilities, National Committee organizations ensure the dissemination of WRA-generated information within their respective national transportation communities and select representatives to serve on WRA’s technical committees. (For more information, see “Leading on the International Stage” in the January/February 2017 issue of Public Roads.)

The WRA operates on a 4-year cycle. For the 2016–2019 cycle, AASHTO nominated Christos Xenophontos as English-Speaking Secretary of the Technical Committee on the Performance of Transport Administrations. He is also the vice chair of AASHTO’s Standing Committee on Performance Management, which provides State departments of transportation with the expertise and resources to support performance-based management.

Photo. Members of the technical committee pose in front of a building in Rhode Island.
Members of the World Road Association's technical committee met in Rhode Island to discuss the impact of implementation of performance measures around the globe.

“[The standing committee] addresses all aspects of performance management, including Federal regulations, current industry practices, and emerging approaches and concepts,” says Xenophontos. “By linking with WRA’s Technical Committee on Performance of Transport Administrations, we gain additional access to what other countries are already doing to improve the practice of implementing performance measures.”

WRA’s committee met in April 2017 in Providence, RI, for a 2.5-day session to discuss global perspectives and approaches. The meeting provided an opportunity for attendees to learn about the AASHTO committee, and also for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to work with members of the WRA committee in organizing a mini-summit on connected and autonomous vehicles.

WRA’s committee also is working with the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Committee on Performance Management to highlight shared information, research results, and products. As part of the meeting in Rhode Island, the two committees organized a joint session to exchange information on developing strategies for performance management.

Members of the AASHTO, TRB, and WRA committees also presented during a session of the 2017 TRB Annual Meeting on the work undertaken by each committee. “TRB’s [committee] can benefit from an extended international membership and [WRA’s committee] can benefit from the extensive research undertaken by [TRB],” says Mara Campbell, the TRB committee chair.

International Perspectives

As a member of the WRA committee, FHWA’s Francine Shaw Whitson serves as co-leader of the committee’s working group that is undertaking a study to define concepts and measures used in establishing a strategic approach to achieving performance goals.

“Through interaction with the international road transportation community,” says Shaw Whitson, “we benefit from lessons learned from countries that are more advanced in the implementation of [performance measurement] programs. We are gaining valuable firsthand insight to information not readily available by other means.”

Members of the WRA committee have developed surveys to help define what makes a good strategic plan and what key performance measures countries have set to achieve desired goals.

“We are seeking to understand the impact of changes undergone in the transportation administrations and benefits and challenges associated with implementation of these changes,” says José Manuel Blanco Segarra, chair of the WRA committee.

The final reports and case studies will not be available until WRA’s 2019 Congress in Abu Dhabi. However, says Blanco Segarra, “the intent of the technical committee is to produce interim products that will be shared with the U.S. road transportation community through the links forged in this collaboration.”

Agnes R. Velez is a transportation specialist with FHWA’s Office of International Programs.



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